The white Dallas police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man in his own apartment has been terminated. Officer Amber Guyger, 30, shot 26-year old Botham Jean on Sept. 6 at the South Side Flats apartment complex where both lived in separate units.
Guyger claims she encountered Jean, who she thought was a burglar in her apartment. Jean, a native of the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia who worked as an accountant in Dallas, ultimately died of his wounds. Guyger turned herself in days later when she was charged with manslaughter and is currently out on bond.
Since the shooting, there have been conflicting narratives from both sides. Richland Criminal Justice Professor Raymond Kessler supports the firing of the officer and thinks Guyger should have been terminated earlier.
“In this case I think that it took too long to fire the officer, and it damaged the department’s reputation with the community,” said Kessler.
According to The Associated Press, the Dallas police department issued a statement on Sept. 24 that said Guyger engaged in “adverse conduct” when she was arrested for manslaughter. The term was later clarified as “conduct which adversely affects the moral or efficiency of the department.”
The case was handed over to the Texas Rangers to investigate immediately after the shooting, a move Kessler supports.
“No agency should be investigating its own officers’ crimes,” said Kessler.
“I think there is a possible conflict of interest and bringing in an outside agency is a very good idea.”
According to published reports, the case will be presented to a grand jury, which could ultimately decide to elevate the charges. A search warrant for Jean’s apartment detailed that marijuana was found, a fact that angered the family attorney and protestors who felt it was an attempt to dehumanize Jean.
“I think for most people today, possession of small amount of marijuana is not a big deal,” Kessler said. “However, I think they were justified in seizing the marijuana because it’s in plain view because that’s one of the exceptions to the search warrant requirement, so I think the search and seizure was valid and probably the seizure of marijuana was valid.”
Kessler says it’s hard to say when the case will go to the grand jury. The Texas Rangers will most likely have to complete their investigation first.
“The prosecutor wants to [do] this one time, and wants to get all of the evidence he has to bring to the grand jury so it could take a while,” Kessler said.
Kessler said that most police officers are “law-abiding citizens,” just like most people, but there can be some “bad eggs.”
“Unfortunately, a bad egg in a police department can do more damage in a police department than say as an accountant. We need to avoid stereotyping police and we need to avoid stereotyping other people and to look at each case individually,” Kessler said.
According to Police Chief U. Renee Hall, Guyger was tested for drugs and alcohol. Jean’s family say they plan to sue the City of Dallas and Guyger.